Services Australia to upgrade IBM mainframe for $28.5m

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Services Australia to upgrade IBM mainframe for $28.5m

Bigger storage array on the way.

Services Australia has handed IBM a $28.5 million contract to upgrade the storage infrastructure in its mainframe environment.

The three-year "mainframe infrastructure solution" deal comes less than 18 months out from the end of Big Blue’s central mainframe support arrangement at the services agency.

IBM currently supports the mainframe environment – covering both z13 and z14 systems – under a $481 million contract that forms part of its 2018 umbrella deal.

Services Australia told iTnews the new contract will see IBM supply a "mainframe storage array solution", as well as any related installation and maintenance services.

It also suggests that IBM support for the environment will need to be extended beyond until at least 2025, much like the Department of Home Affairs has done.

"The solution replaces existing end-of-life storage arrays and caters for future growth requirements," a spokesperson said, without elaborating.

IBM last two mainframe storage contracts were signed in February 2018 and April 2017, though both had a significantly shorter term at 12 months and six months, respectively.

Services Australia has been progressively shifting off the Model 204 technology underpinned by its mainframe as part of the welfare payments infrastructure transformation (WPIT) program.

For Centrelink payments, it is replacing the existing entitlements calculation engine (ECE) embedded in the legacy income security integrated system (ISIS) with a Pega-based ECE.

The Pega ECE went live for the aged pension and aged care programs in August and September 2021, with income support payments in the Veterans Affairs portfolio now expected to follow.

Services Australia has also created a new whole-of-government SAP payments platform, dubbed payment utility, that is built on IBM infrastructure.

Despite the recent shift to cloud-based platforms, Services Australia said there were no plans to stop using its mainframe altogether.

"The mainframe continues to provide a secure and reliable platform for critical programs administered by Services Australia," the spokesperson said.

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